NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 22: Tom Kostopoulos #16 of the Calgary Flames checks Michael Sauer #38 of the New York Rangers during the first period on November 22 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York New York. (Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)
In news that shocked a grand total of five people today, the Colin Campbell suspended Calgary Flames forward Tom Kostopoulos for his blindside hit to Brad Stuart's head that left the Detroit Redwings player with a broken jaw. The real news, however, was the amount of games, the rhetoric used when explaining the suspension, and the reaction from both Kostopoulos and Flames Interim GM Jay Feaster.
Tom Kostopoulos Breaks Jaw on Brad Stuart (HD Dual-Feed) (via HockeyWebCaster)
It's clear that it wasn't a Matt Cooke style gooning hit, but that doesn't excuse Kostopoulos from the blindside hit you just watched. With more and more information on the side effects of concussions and hits to the head, players need to be more aware of where they're putting their body and shoulders when skating into other players.
Six games is a lot. We've seen a lot of blindside hits to the head that result in 2-3 game suspensions or none at all, but this is nearing absurd. Sure, he's not a star so he's not going to get preferential treatment by Colie, but neither is Brad Stuart. Where could the extra few games come from? Let's ask Colin Campbell...
"Kostopoulos delivered a blow to the head of an unsuspecting and vulnerable player. As well, he targeted the head of his opponent and, while the hit was not from the blindside, the head was the principle point of contact."
Okay- so it wasn't a blindside hit? Really? So why the six games?
"The fact that Brad Stuart was not in possession of the puck when the blow was delivered and the serious nature of the player’s injury were also considered in my decision."
Now you're telling me that you're punishing the injury, not the hit. An injury, that given the nature of the hit (apparently not blindside) is not entirely the hitter's fault. An injury that is pretty much completely random based on how someone turns their head at the last second or how they hit the ice. Great job Colie! Well, Tom? What do you think? And what about you Interim GM Jay Feaster?
"We strongly disagree, not only with the length of the suspension, but also with the fact that Tom was suspended," said Jay Feaster, acting general manager of the Flames."
Okay, I can get behind that. Stick up for your players and all that.
"While we are sorry the player was injured, we maintained in the hearing the hit was a legal check. The player was batting at the puck and Tom hit him in the chest and finished his check through him."
What? Really? Does Stuart's chest extend to the top of his noggin? Really?
Well, what do think Kostopoulos?
"I’m extremely disappointed in the League’s ruling as I believe I have not done anything illegal"
This is just embarrassing. Really. Everyone except poor Brad Stuart is just making a fool of themselves.